While the team won't officially use the name until the 2014-15 season, the Bobcats are getting off to a quick start to distance themselves from the "Bob" Cats name. The organization plans to do almost everything aside from re-modeling the arena this year.
The NBA team in Charlotte will finally get the old Hornets name back – and with it comes a new business model.
The team will kick off a “Buzz City” themed, purple-tinged media blitz Sunday on billboards, newspapers, radio and the Internet. A web video that goes with it is heavy on civic pride and heritage, with the old logo and an old Muggsy Bogues jersey making appearances.
One billboard-style ad proclaims simply: “Honey…I’m Home.”
Retro Hornets merchandise will be up for sale almost immediately. The new logo, colors, uniforms and the new dance team will follow soon.
In short, it’ll be a quick transition for a team that spent years trying to build a Bobcats brand that never quite caught on in Charlotte. The new focus will try to recreate the happy times that came with the city’s first big-league team.
One obstacle, certainly, has always been money. The team estimates it will cost about $3 million to change everything from the logo to Time Warner Cable Arena itself.
The Reason For The ReBrand
Bobcats officials conducted surveys over the winter to see how the change would be received. A full 80 percent of Charlotteans supported the name change.
“I’ve been involved in a number of research studies, and I’ve never seen numbers that favorable,” said Pete Guelli, the team’s marketing director.
In the past four weeks, the Bobcats have sold more than 500 season ticket plans, which will cover both this season and next. That ranks the team in the top eight of the NBA.
But how will you sell a Cody Zeller Bobcats jersey to those ticketholders when the name’s going away?
Answer: They won’t. At least, that won’t be the focus.
Expect to see close-out sales on Bobcats gear early as manufacturers control their inventory, said Ira Mayer of EPM Communications, which publishes reports on sports licensing. T-shirts might stick around since they’re easier to make and can essentially be produced on demand. Everything else, he said, will soon be in short supply.
“I’m sure retail will be soft for six months, but then it’ll be the best they’ve ever had,” Bassewitz said. “I don’t see it hurting their business at all.”